Archive for January, 2008

It may be a small world but you can still get lost

The Wall Street Journal has a note about Why Technology Didn’t Help Find Steve Fossett that is a reminder about just how big and difficult the Great Basin can be.

Nevada’s terrain generates strong winds that can floor even experienced pilots like Mr. Fossett, whose plane disappeared in September. Even on clear days, search pilots get headaches from trying to keep a steady gaze while being bounced by the wind. On the ground, the remains of old mining equipment are hard to distinguish from downed planes … the newest technology often isn’t helpful. The jagged terrain can block signals from emergency locator transmitters.

Adding to those difficulties is this

The wide distribution of Nevada satellite photographs on the Web led to so many distracting false tips that the Civil Air Patrol had its office phone number changed.

What many didn’t quite realize is that the pictures on the web are often months or even years old. That means that they are not useful looking for lost people.

You don’t need an airplane to get lost, either. It seems that every year someone heads off on some road that looks OK but gets less and less defined the farther you go. Eventually the vehicle gets stuck and nobody knows they are out there. A walk back to civilization is a dangerous trek.

While some of these folks that get lost can dig out a cell phone and call for assistance, there are many places in Nevada where the cell phone has no service.

Don’t get complacent. If you are out on a ride, make sure someone back home knows where you are going and when you expect to get back. Take appropriate supplies with you so that you can survive for a day or two (especially important in winter when sudden storms can cause you to be unexpectedly stranded). Respect the country as it can hold you and hide you in ways you just cannot imagine.

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Driving tips

Arthur St. Antoine provides his Top Four Tips For Driving Like A Pro at MotorTrend that apply to getting your RV down the road safely. Tip 1 advising smooth driving has implications for the travel trailer and sway.

Driving well is all about weight management, controlling the ever-shifting mass of the car so the tires are never overloaded. That means rolling the steering wheel gracefully into turns, squeezing on the gas and brakes, moving the transmission lever (if you have a manual) as if the shift knob were an egg.

The reason you have load leveling is to keep the proper weight on the wheels. Hard braking is going to _lift_ the front wheels as the trailer brakes cause the trailer weight to shift to the tongue which pushes down on the rear of the tow vehicle. Load leveling apparatus helps to reduce this effect. Smooth driving is how you keep that RV doing what you want it to do in getting on down the road.

Tip 3 is about looking where you want to go. In an RV on the road this means where the road meets the horizon. There is a lesson from highway hypnosis here in that people often go where they are looking. Skiers looking at trees to avoid them often hit the tree. Drivers mesmerized by the lights of a vehicle by the side of the road may run into that vehicle. Put your vision on where you want to go because that is where you will likely be going.

Tip2 is about staying in lane and preparing for a turn properly so you don’t turn too early. With a trailer that turns inside the tow vehicle, turning too early will have the trailer going over the curb.

Tip 4 provides a model for braking effectively that is crass enough it might help you remember

good tips. think about your driving. drive safe and enjoy the ride.

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Living issues

Here are some late life issues websites that might be of interest when thinking about retirement or serious illness or other such things you might encounter. sometime.

be prepared.

The mission of Analyze Now! is to disseminate inexpensive retirement planning tools to educate the user about the realities of retirement planning. Henry K. “Bud” Hebeler spent most of his career at the Boeing Aerospace Company in Seattle, WA finance department and now he shares some spreadsheets, computer programs, and information to help others make the most of their retirement.

POST – physician orders for kife sustaining treatment program has the goal “to effectively communicate the wishes of seriously ill patients to have or to limit medical treatment as they move from one care setting to another.” From the patients and family page:

The POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) Paradigm form is a brightly colored, medical order form. Your health care professional may use the POLST Paradigm form to write orders that indicate what types of life-sustaining treatment you do or do not want if you become seriously ill.

Related to this is Making the hard decision to forgo emergency measures which goes into some of the difficulties with DNR (do not resuscitate orders)

a bit less critical but maybe of some interest are these:

On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study:

Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government’s invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.

An Update On Formaldehyde: 1997 Revision if you are worried about your new trailer gassing you.

Rodent Removal, Elimination, Biology will launch you to different links concerning the biology of common household rodents, rats, mice. This might be handy of those critters are trying to keep warm in winter by crawling into your living space.

The Geo Method By Charles Bruni might be something to do to keep your holding tanks cleaned out if you can’t just leave them alone and use them properly. Bruni is really proud of his effort here and has quite a movement behind him.

Determining the R-Value You Need for an Existing House might be something to dream about if winter is getting to you or you just received your latest propane bill.

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Nevada Trails funded by State Parks

The Fernley Leader reports Nevada trails website launched (Reno Gazette Journal). “With funding from federal Recreational Trail Program grants, administered by the Nevada Division of State Parks, the Great Basin Institute, in partnership with federal, state and local land management agencies, created the on-line encyclopedia of designated motorized and non-motorized recreational trails.”

The new website Nevada Trail Maps “offers a central location for the best and most comprehensive information about Nevada’s recreational trails.”

This is an effort of the Great Basin Institute, a nice idea, but appears to have a long ways to go.

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Travel doesn’t necessarily require distance

When is the last time you treated your home town as if you’d never visited it before?

The Ririan Project describes 5 Ways to Experience the Benefits of Travelling Without Leaving Town.

This advice comes from having spent the past 12 months travelling to and living in Panama, Buenos Aires, Toronto, Grenada, Dubai and now South Africa. Sounds like a dream lifestyle right? Yes in some respects you’d be right; but on the other hand it has its challenges.

What I have learned along the way however, is that many of the things we came looking for on our journey, we could have found right on our doorstep.

Many times it seems the places we know the least about are those nearest to us. Do you know about the attractions in your area that invite tourists to visit? When is the last time you visited them? Have you explored them on the I’net?

The SNU can’t get out to Rallies much in winter because of cold, snow, and road conditions. So it’s luncheon meetings. Rather than one favorite hangout the choice is to some local place with character. Whether it is an I80 truck stop diner, a Bavarian World, a Basque restaurant or Mexican, the no ‘same ol same ol’ is a tourism of a different sort.

Tourist attractions aren’t the only place to go. Have you discovered the ‘special drives’ in your area with interesting sights? Special vistas? Nifty places no one seems to know about? — Maybe its time for an afternoon drive to explore and find a new rally site.

Then there are the people who share your passions. An RV club is one of these but surely you have other hobbies: History and historic preservation? Music, dance, and the performing arts? Amateur radio? Quilting? — where do those folks meet and greet and when? Have you visited lately or even joined the group?

The commercial interests may also have some interesting touring. That is a major attraction at Cabella’s, for instance. But other stores can provide displays and ideas, too. Ever wander the thrift stores or the surplus store just to see what kind of stuff is there?

It is winter. This winter is currently featuring a long frigid spell that drives heating costs up and tends to promote hunkering down to keep warm. Maybe getting out and being a winter tourist in your home town is just the thing to get the blood going again.

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Volunteering on federal lands

Park host, tour guide, or just plain grunt, there are may opportunities to volunteer in the special places that RV’s make convenient. There are many agencies, governments, and nonprofit organizations that are seeking volunteers to help them manage, maintain, document, or support their natural resources programs. They provide an opportunity for you to do a bit more than just sightsee in your RV.

Focus on personal goals is perhaps the first issue to consider. Where do you want to be at what time during the year? How much time do you have to volunteer? What sort of facilities will you need? What special skills can you contribute? What limitations do you need on your activities? What experience do you have, how much training will you need, and what is your level of comfort? Do you want to volunteer as a part of a team, as a team leader, or as an independent all by yourself out in the far boonies?

Search the web for the agency that is in charge of areas in the locale you choose. Most states have volunteer coordinators for their state parks. Sometimes parks will have nonprofit organizations whose goal is supporting the park. Don’t be afraid to use the telephone to call these agencies or organizations to find out about volunteer services.

The federal government has one website as a coordinated volunteer opportunities resource in addition to the specific agency volunteer sites. Here are some examples.

Volunteer.gov – “Volunteer.Gov/Gov is a partnership among the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, State of New York Division of Veterans Affairs, the Corporation for National and Community Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S.A. Freedom Corps aimed at providing a single, easy-to-use web portal with information about volunteer opportunities. The site allows you to search for volunteer opportunities by keyword, state, activity, partner, and/or date range.”

The US Fish and Wildlife service says “Our volunteers are individuals who want to give back to their communities, parents who want to be good stewards of the land and set examples for their children, retired people willing to share their wealth of knowledge, concerned citizens of all ages who want to learn more about conservation, and passionate people who enjoy the outdoors and want to spread the word about America’s greatest natural treasures.”

The National Park Service has a rather bare bones search form with a number of broken links.

The BLM Introducing the “America the Beautiful” Volunteer Pass as a volunteer benefit and has a broken link to a 1.6 MB PDF Guide for volunteers. – lots of pretty pictures, though.

The US Army Corps of Engineers Volunteer Clearinghouse “is a nationwide, toll free hotline number for individuals who are interested in volunteering their time with the Corps. By calling the hotline a potential volunteer can express interest in any Corps project nationwide. The Clearinghouse in turn, gives the individual a point of contact for the area they have requested, as well as written information about volunteer opportunities there.”

Jobs Monkey has some good information and links to volunteer opportunities at government agencies and nonprofit companies. They also have some good information on volunteering. See the page on Forest Service Passport in Time (PIT) Volunteer Program, for instance if you are interested in “work with professional archaeologists and historians on projects including archaeological excavation, rock art restoration, survey, archival research, historic structure restoration, gathering oral histories, or writing interpretive brochures.”

In searching for other volunteer sites on the internet, try using the name of the park or area and the word volunteer as key words. “oregon state park” volunteer, for instance, yielded Oregon State Parks and Recreation: Department Administration …. Do a bit of looking around and you will learn a lot about opportunities and how you, too, can make your RV experience more valuable and more important.

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Hunker down time: its cold outside!

One of those things you really need to keep in control during the winter is condensation. See DANK in the Living section of the Owner’s Guide. With all the snow melting, you might think some wet spots inside are due to a leak when they are really just collected condensation. No matter how cold, you have to make sure there is adequate ventilation in your RV.

There is also a page in that section about Warmth and another about catalytic heaters. These will provide some ideas for safely keeping the chill outside.

If your furnace isn’t behaving properly, the RV tech has a good place to start in order to close in on the problem. See Furnace Troubleshooting (the first step). The idea here is that an ammeter across the thermostat leads is calling for heat with an indicator. As the furnace cycles through its power up routine you can see it reflected in the current through the thermostat. Be sure to read through the comments to see how others fixed their furnace problems and get an idea of the variety of furnaces and problems that need fixing.

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RGJ stories on Mountain Family and Nevada open spaces

The Reno Gazette Journal has two stories about RV related matters in the Great Basin today.

Mountain Family owner Jon Whipple says he will be providing RV’s for the Extreme Makeover Home Edition crew when they are in Silver Springs to renovate a home next week. He says he will be donating $200 for every RV he sells at the indoor convention this week to the effort.

The politicians are having a bit of a time reaching out for votes in Nevada, too.

“Many of these drives don’t even have cell service,” said Ryan Erwin, Nevada strategist for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. “It is literally dead time.”

Extended drive time, especially without cell service, is poison to a presidential campaign. No fundraising calls. No press interviews. No way to catch up on official business.

“The distance is huge,” said Josh McNeil, spokesman for former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson. “When you’re campaigning, you try to put your candidate in front of as many people as possible; and in Nevada, six hours on a bus is the only way to do it.”

“There’s so much space, it’s hard to go statewide in a campaign bus,” said Hilarie Grey, Nevada spokeswoman for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

But none have yet completed the tried-and-true Interstate 80 circuit known to Nevada politicians, especially Republicans. By booking an entire day, candidates can hit Fernley, Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain and Elko.

The most likely circuits often leave out communities such as Ely and Tonopah, which are hours from any other towns

Nevada isn’t that big a state – only 300 by 500 miles or so. There isn’t a lot in that space and most of what can be considered civilization is in small clumps. That makes it great for a road trip and an RV experience but no so much if you are trying to make an impression on a lot of voters.

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I80 to US50 and the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center

Reno Gazette-Journal Report: U.S. 50/I-80 link continues to grow (Bill O’Driscoll)

The new USA Parkway state route 567 being built by private funds will make it easier to head south from Reno to Alt US 95 south to Lake Lahontan and Yerington bypassing downtown Fernley. “The extension of USA Parkway to Bittleman Flats is projected for completion in September of 2008″ (NNBW)

If you head east from Reno you’ll see a lot of activity just past the power station. This is the construction for the new overpass at the Tracy-Clark exit. That will be a primary service access to the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. There will be a parkway from there south to US 50. Roger Norman, principal owner/developer of the 104,00-acre business park, is building the parkway at a cost of about $18 million but does plan to open the road to the public.

Wal-Mart and Petsmart already have distribution centers at the site. If you don’t like heavy truck traffic, then you should steer clear.

see also Sierra Pacific Development on the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center -|- Al Corn Reality has a nice arial picture -|- RGJ: Industrial Boom -|

This will be the largest industrial park in the world if all goes according to plan. It is only a few miles east of Sparks but in the middle of some very rugged and remote ground at the intersection of the Virginia and Flowery Ranges. US 50 runs along the south side of the Flowery Range from Dayton to Silver Springs, which looks to become a string of bedroom communities for the labor force serving the industrial park. Cheap land, low tax infrastructure, ready access to major routes going towards all points of the compass, good business climate, — just watch out for the traffic!

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SNU January Newsletter

The January 2008 Newsletter has been posted

* Note: Links to photo galleries and additional information mentioned in articles in this newsletter are also at the link

Update!

SNU members Wes and RoyLaine live in Fernley. They survived the flooding. Although their neighborhood was flooded, their house and garage were just high enough that water came up to their doorstep but not into the house. They didn’t have to evacuate and they never lost power. Wes and Roy, their dogs, and their Airstream are OK.

Melissa and Roman who are in San Diego, had a branch fall on their Airsream. Thankfully it didn’t cause any damage.

>> December Lunch
The WBCCI Sierra Nevada Unit gathered in a solar heated home in east Reno for their December meeting. Don and Randy headed the Death Valley rally planning, Jerry was getting geared up for 5 motocross events including a Baja run, the Roots were remembering their vacation at Zion and good times in an old Airstream (despite tire trouble), Don had a photo gallery going on the TV, The judge and the lawyer were discussing the good ol’ days, — There was just not enough time to catch up on everyone’s plans and gossip and business and happenings.

Other Topics in this newsletter include:
* Upcoming lunch at Bavarian World
* President’s Ramblin’s
* Dealing with mice in your Airstream
* An Argosy story.

>>January 19, 2008 Luncheon
Bavarian World at 6th and Valley in Reno, NV $15 per person for the combination plate lunch. Time – 11:30 am. Member luncheon, all SNU members, other Airstream owners and potential Airstream owners welcome. There is also a bakery and store with German and other continental items so come prepared to do a little shopping after lunch. Please RSVP Call 775 972 9392 or email hq@sierranevadaairstreams.org

>> Check Zephyrs to find out what else is new on the website

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Cookies

Baking Delights has links to recipes for The 50 Best Cookie Recipes on the Internet. Let’s see: Molasses Crinkles, maple pecan sticky bars, ranger cookies, samoas, peanut butter and fudge brownies with salted peanuts, homemade graham crackers, chocolate pixie cookies, maple snickerdoodles … hard to go wrong with a list like that! Also see the link to the best cookies for shipping.

Don’t forget to check the recipe URL’s. That is how you can find other web sites that feature recipes and good things for your kitchen.

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